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Why I Hid in the Chicken Coop

There is always a reason for hiding, and you are probably thinking that I did something wrong to be pushed into hiding in a chicken coop. I hid because I was scared. I felt that the carabinieri, the Italian policemen, had come to my village to bring me to a juvenile jail. Well, I'll let you be the judge. Did I really do something wrong? And, If I did, did I really deserve to be punished? I'll let you be the judge hoping that you'll understand my predicament.


My village in the mountains of Sicily was tiny, and news there traveled very fast, really fast. In those days, you found out what went on from what you heard from neighbors, friends, and, of course, gossip. From eavesdropping one evening after dinner time in my neighborhood, I heard that a young boy had died from complications at the city hospital about one hour away. As soon as I heard that, I ran away as fast as I could and hid in the family's chicken coop located on the outskirts of the village. As I ran, I thought, "Oh! My God! The police will come to arrest me."


The day before, I was playing with my friends in the countryside. We really weren't doing much. We were just hanging around saying silly things to each other, and maybe, we were too bored to think of something constructive to do. Amongst us, this boy was visiting from a nearby village. I really don't remember his name (it doesn't matter what his real name is), but I do remember what happened as if it happened yesterday. I was chatting with friends, and BOY, I'll call him BOY as if it were his first name, approached me, saying, "I don't like you!" I was very skinny. BOY was taller and more muscular. Then, pointing his first at me, he commanded with a resolute voice, "I want to challenge you to a fight." I didn't have a chance to say anything, and, before you know it, he put his arms around my chest and started twisting me around like a spinning top.


You must know that I was, and still am, a 'pacifist,' someone who loves making friends and living in peace. I didn't want to fight, but I was forced into it as we started rolling to the ground. As we tumbled and tumbled with 'really' no clear victor, we came to a rolling hill. With everyone watching stupefied, we started rolling down. Rolling down, we did to the bottom of the small hill. Did we stop? No! But a sharp rock stopped us. It could have been my rolling, but it was BOY's roll. He hit his head, and blood started pouring as it was water from a running faucet.


We couldn't stop the bleeding. Scared, we brought BOY to the nearest village house. The 'mom' who happened to help us couldn't stop the bleeding. She proceeded saying that BOY needed to be transported to the city hospital to stop the bleeding. She also told us that it was best for all of us to go back home. At the dinner table that evening, I kept the day's event to myself, but my mom looked suspiciously at me but did not ask me any questions.


After dinner, I stepped outside to play with my friends as I usually did. Neighborhood ladies were sitting by their front doors chatting. It was usually gossip and light talk, and, most of the time, they usually laughed their way into the summer sunset. But this time, I noticed that they were not laughing. They were earnest. As I walked by, I overheard a boy who had died at the city hospital.


I ran as fast as I could. I hid in my family's chicken coop. I hid not be found. My life was over before I even started. For sure, I was going to spend my life in jail. But I am here to share my fright, so it did not happen the way I had thought. The following day when my mom found me (she went to the chicken coop every morning to get the eggs), she, having put two and two together, said, "Silly boy! The boy you had a rumble with is doing fine. His mom was giving birth, and the child, a boy, died during labor. Let's go home. I'll cook you some eggs."


My mom's smile, the thought of having fresh eggs for breakfast, and the fact that I wouldn't be arrested gave me the best feeling of my life. I thought to myself: Life is good after all. So I will do a good deed for the rest of my life and never harm others.


[Sequel to 'Hiding in the Chicken Coop: BOY and I became best friends, and I had to sweep the floor of my house for a month for hiding in the chicken coop.]

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